Early winterisation provides you with peace of mind knowing that your fire sprinkler system will function as intended, even during the harshest winter conditions.
Winterisation is a proactive measure taken to look after your fire sprinkler system and the property and contents it protects.
Reasons to keep your fire sprinkler systems protected during the cold winter months include:
- Preventing burst pipes which can stop sprinklers from discharging correctly.
- Preventing pipe corrosion which can compromise the integrity of the system.
- Preventing legal liability and insurance coverage issues in the event of a fire due to failure to maintain a properly functioning sprinkler system.
- Preventing costly water damage from burst pipes within the building.
- Preventing time-consuming and costly pipe repair works.
Standard methods of protection against freezing include:
a) installing pipework within a heated building*
b) the use of lagging and trace heating
c) installing 'dry'/pre-action systems to protect areas at risk of freezing
*However even if your building is heated, pipework in unheated or cooler areas are still at risk of freezing in extreme weather.
British Standard BS 9251:2020 (Section 5.17 Frost protection) reads as follows:
Unlike water in domestic water systems, water in sprinkler systems is not replenished by warmer water in normal circumstances. Therefore the water in a sprinkler system continues to lose heat until it reaches ambient air temperature and can easily freeze, despite being lagged. Exposed pipework, unless adequately protected, can also be affected by wind-chill leading to the freezing of the contents, even when ambient temperatures are above 0 °C.
It's important to note that the specific requirements and recommendations for preventing freezing in sprinkler systems can vary depending on factors such as climate, local building codes, and the design of the system. Therefore, it's essential to consult a qualified fire protection professional to ensure that the fire sprinkler system in a specific structure is designed, installed, and maintained to prevent freezing and operate effectively in the event of a fire.
What you can do in winter
- Maintain a building temperature of at least 4 degrees
- Maintain an adequate temperature on dry pipe valve rooms, fire pump rooms and areas with wet pipe sprinklers
- Change over systems from water to air in readiness for the winter months
Electrical Trace Heatng Systems
- Check that all electrical trace heating systems are fully operational and monitored to protect external pipework from the winter elements
- Regular Inspections: Schedule regular inspections and maintenance by qualified professionals who can identify and address any issues promptly. This includes checking for leaks, blockages, and damage to the sprinkler system.
- Draining Systems: In some cases, sprinkler systems can be drained or partially drained during the winter months to prevent freezing. This should be done according to manufacturer recommendations and applicable codes.
- Monitoring: Install temperature monitoring systems that can provide alerts if temperatures within the sprinkler room or near the pipes drop to levels that could lead to freezing.
In summary, the winter maintenance of fire protection sprinkler pipework is vital to ensure the reliability of these systems in the event of a fire. Neglecting this maintenance can have serious consequences, including property damage, injury and loss of life. Proper maintenance not only ensures safety but also helps maintain compliance with legal and insurance requirements and will ensure that your sprinkler system remains efficient and functional when warmer weather returns.
So, don’t get caught out in the cold snap – when very low temperatures are forecast, we cannot stress the importance of carrying out cold weather system checks on your sprinkler system. Plan ahead by getting your heating system inspected in the autumn months.
If your pipes do freeze, do not attempt to fix it yourself, as this can result in further damage and personal injury. Instead, call out a qualified service engineer.
Call Richmond Fire Engineers on 01752 825612 with any questions regarding fire sprinkler maintenance during freezing conditions. We can provide fire sprinkler system inspections and testing to keep your system running smoothy.
24/7 Emergency call-out 07496 993517